Tour de Yorkshire: Hermans solos to victory in Leeds

Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) won stage 3 of the Tour de Yorkshire from Wakefield to Leeds after a bold attack with just over 10 kilometres remaining. The Belgian came to the line on his own with teammate Greg Van Avermaet and Julien Simon (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) taking second and third respectively. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) finished safely in the chasing pack and successfully defended his overall lead to claim the title in the inaugural edition of the race.

"I never thought that I could be on a high level here in Yorkshire and the weather conditions were not really my favourite. Today was a good day and I had a hard moment on the second to last KOM when it stated to rain but then I felt better and I had a go," Hermans said.

Hermans struck for home just as the remnants of the peloton, and the overall contenders, eased off after the final ascent of the day. At that point, the race for the blue jersey was effectively over and BMC’s target switched from unsettling Nordhaug to claiming a consolation stage win.

Up ahead lay the tiring Lawson Craddock, who had been part of the day’s main break, but the American rider was unable to defend a slender 30-second lead when Hermans made his move with 11 kilometres to go.

With five kilometres to go Hermans made the juncture and Craddock was immediately forced to concede his race lead as the BMC Racing rider pushed for the line.

With the opposition tamed, Team Sky rode tempo all the way to the finish, with Van Avermaet winning the sprint for second.

How it unfolded

After two days of relatively good weather the Yorkshire peloton were treated to a more typical climate of rain and grey skies after setting out from Wakefield.

Ahead lay the final and arguably most difficult stage of the race with six categorized climbs and barely a metre of flat roads between the start town and Leeds.

Craddock (Giant-Alpecin), Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling), Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (MTN – Qhubeka), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis, Solutions Credits), and Rasmus Christian Quaade (Cult Energy Pro Cycling) formed the early break and Team Sky, defending a slender Nordhaug lead settled in for what potentially could have been a stage to threaten their overall ambitions, with Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) both at ten seconds in arrears.

The break quickly established a lead close to five minutes and with no genuine threats on GC the race settled into an uneasy alliance as Team Sky set tempo, and BMC and Europcar watched in the wings.

On the Cot de Goose Eye the break split to pieces with Edet and Craddock going clear of the their companions. The Frenchman was on a mission, gobbling up the KOM points in a successful bid to win the mountains jersey and he and Craddock briefly threatened to settle the stage between themselves with the gap a 4’45 and less than 50 kilometres to race.

By the time the leading pair had crested the Coe de Cow their advantage began to lose momentum and time, and when they reached the peak at the Cote de Chevin the gap was down to just 1’35.

Team Sky still had men to help defend Nordhaug at this point and Philip Deignan, Ian Boswell and David Lopez were crucial in keeping the Norwegian out of trouble and close to the front. Their work also shed the majority of the field, including Bradley Wiggins, and Team Sky’s rivals were running out of ground in order to challenge for the overall.

The final sprint, with 15km to go took place at the top of an uncategorized climb, and with little to play for and even less in his legs, Edet sat up as Craddock set his eyes on the stage win.

Samuel Sanchez rolled the dice with a dig near the top of the climb but he merely brought Nordhaug into play and the Norwegian took the final bonus second at the top of the climb to essentially end any chance of Team Sky unravelling.

As Craddock held a slender lead Steve Cumming attacked from the peloton, dragging Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto NL- Jumbo) goes with him. However the counter attack never gained more than a few seconds and Hermans was the next rider to roll the dice. This move stuck and the Belgian quickly caught Craddock, before time trialling his way to the line and a deserving victory.

Watch the press conference highlights with overall winner Nordhaug below. To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel please click here.

 

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing4:27:22